New State | New Chapter

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My passion and drive are two things that never diminish.

2016 has been quite the roller coaster to say the least, but I finally feel like it’s turning around for the better. Let’s rewind a year (aka 2015). I originally moved back to California from Puerto Rico to attend CSULA for my teaching credential in science. I completed one semester, and realized that it was not the correct pathway for me. My mom and grandma told me from the beginning that I couldn’t be contained in a 4-walled classroom for very long and be happy… turns out they were right.

I have family in Portland, Oregon, so I began to look into some graduate programs up there for a change of scenery, and also to be closer to them. Portland(ia) is very green & eco-conscious, so I knew it would be a good place to look for environmental education opportunities. It didn’t take very long until I found a program that was PHENOMENAL.

At Portland State University, they offer a Master of Science specializing on Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE). When you say it out loud it’s a mouthful, but it still doesn’t beat my previous degree: Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science Technology and Policy focusing on Marine and Coastal Ecology. Say that five times fast! 

I digress… continuing on with the story… I researched the graduate program more in-depth and ended up attending an LSE Open House last October at the university. My cousin Tiffany and I arrived couple minutes late to the Open House unfortunately, but we still ended up conversing with one of the professors of the program and a previous LSE graduate. They were both very welcoming and helpful, and I left feeling overcome with a mixture joy and relief that this program was truly meant for me. Ultimately, I want to be a Director of Education for an aquarium or non-profit, and/or eventually create my own environmental school focusing in marine conservation. A master of science degree would help me achieve that goal!

Once I had finished my meeting with the professor, Tiffany insisted on taking a photo of me against this wall at the LSE Department (since it WAS going to be my new school eventually). While we were in the middle of taking the photo (seen above), a gentleman walked up who had guided us earlier when we first walked into the offices. He was just checking in on us to make sure we were successful in locating a professor to speak with. Low and behold, he was the Admissions and Student Support Specialist for the LSE Program! I immediately felt like a complete idiot for taking this silly picture while he was trying to check in on us, but he was a good sport about it all 😛

Long story short – I applied – and got accepted earlier this month! I’m not going to lie, I went back and forth with my final decision. Paying out of state tuition is A LOT of money, but my close friend/mentor said don’t let money be the deciding factor if that’s the only thing holding you back. He is right. I’m 28, single, no kids, and I don’t have any other seemingly huge excuse to keep me from making this next life move. It’s time for a new state – new friends – new adventures – and new memories for (at least) the next 2 years!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me in this process – I have leaned upon many of you in this final decision. I appreciate your support whole heartedly – and I can’t wait to have you all visit me! There will be many Pacific Northwest adventures to come, I am sure of it. Time to bust out my flannels and rain boots…

See you in July, Portland!

 

PS – If you know of any potential job opportunities or housing (preferably furnished) in Portland –> PLEASE COMMENT BELOW ❤ ! 

 

 

You Vs. Ocean Creatures

The ocean is a vast, mysterious, and beautiful place. Underwater creatures get the opportunity to grow to extreme weights and lengths compared to us terrestrial animals. Could you imagine walking down the street and seeing 12 foot long crab pass by you by?!

See how Scuba Steve compares to some of the GIANTS OF THE DEEP 😀

When Scientists Geek Out.

Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico, Scuba Divers, Nurse Shark

As a marine biologist, I can’t even begin to list the amount of times I gleefully screamed or screeched underwater when I saw something astounding right before my own 2 blue eyes. Some underwater face to face encounters that stand out are: having a whale shark come straight towards me in Mexico, a giant cuttlefish staring at me in Australia, and multiple manatees in Puerto Rico. Heck, I couldn’t even form a sentence when I saw a huge manatee moving underneath me!

Yes, I totally was that nerd who sat on the floor in-front of the TV a couple of years ago after the Super Bowl to watch the first footage of a live giant squid caught on camera. And of course, I shed tears of happiness because cephalopods are some of my favorite animals on the entire planet. If there is ever an opportunity for me to go into a submersible 1000’s of feet below the surface, YOU BET I WOULD BE ON THAT SUCKER IN AN INSTANT!

So when I saw this video yesterday, I knew I would have gone just as crazy as one of those scientists operating the ROV. Can you imagine starting at a screen for HOURS and even DAYS just hoping that something interesting passing in front of your camera and lights 600m underwater? Then, BOOM! Check out what puts on quite a little show for these researchers 🙂 (Here’s the article if you want to read it as well)

Learning to Sea Podcast

 

Miss Scuba USA


LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

 

I was recently interviewed by Ashley Hasna, who started the Podcast –> Learning to Sea. We chatted about how I got involved in the marine biology field, and how that lead me to becoming Miss Scuba USA 2013. I also throw out some fun facts about the Miss Scuba International Pageant that happened behind the scenes – pretty funny stuff! Here’s a little more about the podcast itself:

Whether living on, near, or far from the water, this is a place to comprehensively learn, love, and share your enthusiasm about the ocean.  We’re covering the ocean from fact to folklore.

Find latest ocean news, interesting crafts, book reviews, and more on the blog. Also hear from ocean experts and enthusiasts on the Learning to Sea podcast. Connection is key, so come down to sea level and enjoy the tide.

Ashley had heard my previous appearance on the Scuba Obsessed Podcast, and reached out to me to see if I would like to be interviewed on her podcast as well. I said OF COURSE! I love meeting and connecting with people from all over the world – luckily podcasts are a great way to do that 🙂 You can listen to the podcast by clicking this link or downloading it on iTunes as well. Be sure to follow all of Learning to Sea’s social media outlets 😀

Follow Learning to Sea:

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If It Hurts, It’s Probably Worth It

Chanel Rainforest

 

So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never overstay your welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.

— Alex Garland

It seems the older I get, the more heart-to-heart posts seem to emerge. As many of you know, I packed up my life in 2 weeks and sold most of my life to move to Puerto Rico for what I thought was my ‘dream job’ in February. I’ve had 3 very tough months here. I’ve had to move 3 times already – dealing with crazy landlords and unfair predicaments. But, the plus side is that we ended up finding a fantastic beach front home that is walking distance to work. There were a whole other multitude of issues I’ve encountered thus far, but I am trying very hard to focus on the positive aspects instead of the negative.

I’m not going to lie, I have come to many bumps in the road here where I was one click away from booking my plane ticket home. After I decided to pursue going back to school to get my teaching credential about a month ago, that’s all I can focus on. I felt like there is nothing keeping me here any longer, so why stay? All my friends, family, continuous fun concerts/events/activities, boyfriend (see below), and future were in California. Why am I still here?

Well, I am no longer in a relationship. Throughout my life, I’ve become accustomed in a sense to long distance relationships. No, it’s not easy or my favorite thing to do, but if both parties want to make it work, they will do whatever it takes to do so. At this point in time, Adam and I decided it would be best to just be friends. I’ve come to understand that it was the best decision for us both considering all the factors. Life is too short. My heart is very full of love and gives unconditionally – it deserves the same.

The quote at the beginning of the post resonates with all my experiences here in Puerto Rico thus far. I am keeping my mind open and sucking in every adventure-filled moment. Of course not every moment has been a good one, but it was worth it because I learned something about myself.

I definitely consider myself lucky to have been able to pack up in 2 weeks and move to an island in the Caribbean. I don’t take this opportunity for granted. I am in love with the fact that I wake up every morning and see the ocean outside my bedroom window. My job can be mentally and physically exhausting at times, but when it’s rewarding, all I can do is smile from ear to ear. Each time that I snorkel and see an octopus (favorite creature!!) – I keep reminding myself that I am getting paid to do this – and yeah, things COULD be worse 😛

I jumped into this life change without a safety rope. I moved to a country where I didn’t know a soul – I don’t speak the native language – I can’t eat 95% of what is on the menu at most places – I don’t have a car – and I took half a paycheck cut to be here. But, HERE I AM. I’m healthy – I am getting to a happier place each and every day – and I’m starting to sink into the reality that I am on a beautiful island that has so much to offer if I just keep an open mind. No doubt it took awhile to reach this point, but there’s no reason in being negative when life is meant to be lived to the fullest.

I am expecting multiple friends and family to visit before I move back to California in January. It will make me so happy to share my experiences with people I love and who know, respect, and understand my passions in life 🙂 If you are keen to take a quick vacation to a tropical island – let me know!

 

Belizian Waterfall Adventures

 

Adam Chanel Waterfall Belize

Recently, I just returned from the most amazing week vacation in Placencia, Belize. My boyfriend’s friend was hosting a destination wedding, and I couldn’t say no to being his date 😉 As soon as I heard “Belize” – all that I could think about was being able to scuba dive the Great Blue Hole (a Bucket List item for many divers). I will save that whole adventure story for a future post.

I took my handy GoPro Hero 3 on her first big adventure under the water as well as above the water. Throughout the weekend I earned the title of ‘GoPro Girl’ haha – it was attached to my side. Hence, I have A LOT of video footage to edit over the next couple of weeks.

Luckily, I had some time on my hands last night and was able to put together a quick little summary of our trip to the waterfalls. Around 40 people from the wedding party hopped on an old school bus for a 30 min ride to the forest. We were greeted at the falls with huge coolers of Belize Belikin beer and burritos – can you say heaven?! There was even a natural water rockslide that you’ll see me go down in the video. It was a perfect getaway adventure! Stay tuned for more video summaries to follow this month 🙂

A New Life Is About To Begin

TravelVigorI have some very exciting news!!

As of February 6, 2013, I have accepted a job offer to be a Naturalist for the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Ritz Carlton Reserve in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico.

This specific job opportunity has actually been in the works for over a year and half now. Finally, the timing worked out perfectly in this instance – and I am ready pursue my life long passions of ocean conservation and environmental education and get paid to do so! I am moving exactly two weeks from today – meaning there will be a lot of packing, selling, moving, crying, laughing, and hugging until I depart for Puerto Rico. I can’t even begin to explain all the emotions I am feeling right now. This is the opportunity of the lifetime and I’ve worked so incredibly hard to get here. I want to thank everyone in my life who has stood beside me and supported me through all my wild ventures. I will be more than happy to be any of your personal tour guides in Puerto Rico when you come visit me 🙂

LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN!

New Years Goals for 2014

Two years ago, I started a tradition where I create 3 new goals/standards to live by instead of resolutions. I would rather create standards to uphold throughout the rest of my life than create a ‘resolution’ that would most likely not last the entire year. My 2013 goals were:

Visit the ocean at least once a month

Keep open and honest communication in relationships from the get-go

Volunteer for a new organization

This past year was one for the record books. I’ll describe that in the next post about my highlights/lessons from 2013. The ‘visiting the ocean at least once a month’ was a great goal – I did find myself in situations where it was the last day of the month and I still hadn’t visited the ocean yet. So I would make it a point to go out to the sea and do a morning run/workout along the strand. My new friendships and relationships this past year started off with honesty and open communication – which was very helpful when weeding out the people in my life who were not worth while. NOW – it’s time to create 3 more.

1) Travel to a new country each year – This past year I was lucky enough to travel to China and Malaysia – both of which I had never been to before. I think it’s a beneficial goal to travel the globe. I yearn for adventure and experiencing new cultures.

Monkey

Credit: Chanel Hason | Location: Mabul, Malaysia

2) Write a random post card or letter once a month to a friend/loved one – I’m very old-fashioned in that I LOVE getting actual snail mail. Move aside email, social media, and texting – let’s release that ballpoint pen on paper, stamp it, and stick it in the mailbox. If you’re lucky..you might get one from me REAL soon!

Credit: WWF

Credit: WWF

3)  Read at least one new book every 6 months – I am not much of a (consistent) book person. If I have time in a day (which is rare), it is usually right before I go to bed in which I don’t want to strain my eyes by reading. What tends to happen is that I start a book – get busy – and never finish it. So this goal will help me put aside time and dedicate it to escaping reality and indulging in good book 🙂 Any suggestions??

Credit: TalkAndroid.com

Credit: TalkAndroid.com

Cheers to a new year filled with adventure!

What are your resolutions/goals for 2014?

Natural Beauty (New Pics!)

Good day! I wanted to welcome all my new followers I’ve acquired over the past couple of months – thanks & hope you enjoy my blog 🙂 If you are a photographer – be sure to leave a comment if you want be a part of my blog photography challenge.

WOW can you believe how fast Summer has flown by?! With work and weddings pretty much every weekend of the last couple of months, my life has been GO – GO – GO! Once September hits, I can already feel that my life is going to change big time. I might be moving, getting a new job, participating in an international competition… stay tuned for further details 😉 And all of you will be taking that journey with me.

So I promised some photos from my trip to Monterey Bay last month – and I finally had a free day to edit the pics for your viewing pleasure. We went to the Arroyo Seco in Monterey County which is hidden treasure that I suggest EVERYONE goes to see. It’s the perfect activity in the summer time to hike and explore the wilderness.

Also, as my time starts to free up next month – I will continue to post weekly – so don’t you worry! I’ve got some great posts lined up already in my head.

Quarter of a Century

We turn not older with years, but newer every day.

-Emily Dickinson

I hit a milestone in my life. Age may just be a number, but turning 25 was kind of like a ‘wake up call’ so to speak. But maybe in a different way than you are imagining…

When I was younger I thought by the age of 25, I would have the job I’d have the rest of my life, and maybe dating the man who would eventually be my husband. Are those two things happening? Not even close. I do live on my own though (not with my parents) – I think that’s an accomplishment nowadays (no offense to those living at home). I have a job that’s interesting and in the fitness field, but not where my passion lies (obviously with the ocean). What I’ve realized is that we are grown up with standards, kind of like a guide-book, of accomplishments and expectations for certain points in one’s life. I am definitely guilty of thinking that way and falling into the trap, but that’s all it is, a trap. Life is so uncertain, and you can’t plan too far ahead in life. Should I feel bad that I am not doing the future life profession or dating the man of my dreams – no, not really. I’m breaking the mold. I’m just living my life, the way that my life is to be lived:  Young, wild & free.

I had a deep chat with my close friend Evan this weekend about this particular topic actually. We both are young, passionate & positive individuals who know we were made to do something great with our lives. He just published his first digital book, and now has an idea in the works that I think will be a fantastic hit. I’ve discovered on my birthday, from all the 100’s of messages on my Facebook wall, phone calls, and text messages, that people recognize and acknowledge me as a positive/ocean loving/photography/adventurous/successful woman. I was overwhelmed with love and positivity this whole weekend by so many people who I’ve encountered in my life – even some surprising ones who popped up out of the blue. It just goes to show you those who truly do care about you in life, and see the passion burning in your soul and want you to succeed.

I’ve written this blog for 3 years now, and have no idea how many of my friends or strangers even read it. But now, I know the things I’m doing in life are being recognized by those around me, and it makes me smile from the inside out. I’m (plain and simple) just being: ME. 

I have expectations of what my life will look like in 5 years – I hate when people (especially in job interviews) ask you that kind of question. NO ONE KNOWS THE ANSWER. I honestly don’t really want to know the answer – life is about living in the now and enjoying each moment of it. The excitement in life is not knowing what’s around the next corner.

Basically – all I’m saying is that turning 25 just means that I still have plenty of time to accomplish what I want in life. I’m not a ‘failure’ for not being married yet or having my destined long-life job at this age. There are no rules in this game of life – only ones you create in your mind and within society. We make our own unique paths through our decisions and actions. You can either make your life worth living, or live a life that’s boring and monotonous  You choose. I choose the excitement of the unknown 🙂 Because I know I’m destined to do amazing things and I can’t wait to continue my journey for another quarter of a century.

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